Tumultuous Copy? Lead with Drama

“Start as close to the end as possible.”

That’s Kurt Vonnegut’s advice for great story writing, and it’s a doozy.

In fiction, that means jumping in with your best stuff—conflicts and cliffhangers—and then dedicating serious inkage to flashbacks. Laurie Stone’s flash fiction workshop—a powerhouse format, by the way—insists on this method, and it’s been an exciting way to develop my own writing.

But for copy? Leading with drama isn’t just captivating—it’s a necessity. Converting a lead—or missing an opportunity—can be the difference of a few intrigue-building seconds.

I’ll illustrate with a tried-and-true example. Say you own a martial arts studio and you need some marketing copy for a poster. You could say, “Sign up for a karate class, and get a free pair of hand wraps.”

But why not start with this:

The tension mounts. A flashbulb screams. Intensely focused, two men face off for best fighter of the night. If this sounds incredible, you’ve got the soul of a warrior.

Pow! Like an uppercut from nowhere, the drama hits you fast and knocks you off your feet. Rather than wondering whether you’ve got the reader’s attention, you can set the pace of his heartbeat.

A winsome wordsmith, Gregory M. Lewis loves nothing better than absorbing new information and crystallizing it into clear, captivating copy. Greg brings his incisive insight and easy-going approach to every project. In his free time, the Chicago native can be spotted at Nets games, art galleries, and local concerts in Brooklyn.

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